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ELECTRONIC MAILING LISTS (also called listservs) comprise a network of people who discuss a particular topic via e-mail. Subscriptions are free and open to anyone who's interested.


Each listserv has two addresses. You use one for administration steps, such as subscribing, unsubscribing, or setting up your preferences (for example, getting messages one at a time as they're sent or getting them in one batch each week). The other address is for posting messages to everyone who's subscribed.


When you subscribe, you'll be asked to enter information (such as the e-mail address where the group messages will be sent) and to create a password. You'll get an e-mail asking you to confirm your subscription. When you reply, you'll get a second e-mail message welcoming you to the list and giving you an address where you can post messages. It also will tell you how to access your account, so save this information; either print it out or create a folder in your e-mail system to save it electronically.


Once you've subscribed, you'll get e-mails of the messages other members have posted. At your convenience, you can read their comments and conversations, contribute to a discussion, or ask or respond to questions. All messages are automatically archived by the listserv, so you can access prior discussions using your password.


You'll find a lot of interesting commentary on listservs. Because members might come from all over the world, you'll get different perspectives on an issue. You'll also find information that you might not locate anywhere else. For example, on the Nursing PDAs Listserv, you'll see questions and answers about various brands of personal digital assistants (PDAs), plus general topics such as medical records on PDAs and handling PDA files (see to subscribe).


For a list of nursing listservs, see